Registration up 76% for Brunei Down Syndrome association

National 1 minute, 30 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Brunei Down Syndrome Association (ABLE) has seen a 76 per cent increase in registrants of people with Down syndrome in the last four years.

Speaking to The Brunei Times, ABLE president Ustazah Siti Zaliha Hj Abdul Salim said when the centre was first established in 2012, there were only 23 people with Down syndrome registered at the centre.

There were 86 and 90 individuals born with the condition registered at the centre in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

Meanwhile last year, there were a total of 97 people with Down syndrome enrolled at ABLE.

Ustazah Siti Zaliha attributed the increase of registrants to awareness among the family members and community.

Today, the Down Syndrome Association, who stands by the theme ‘Ability Built Through Learning and Experience (ABLE)’, boasts an impressive membership of 516 people: 97 are ‘honorary members’, who are individuals with Down syndrome; 88 are ‘regular members’, who are siblings of individuals with Down syndrome); 292 are ‘full members’, and 39 are ‘associate members’.

When the centre was launched in 2012, there were only 171 members, said the ABLE president.

“In recent years, (Brunei) has begun to pay attention to those with special needs, including individuals with Down syndrome – however, more still needs to be done,” she said.

The president said that there are “still several areas that needs to be taken care of”, noting that Bruneians should be more sensitive to people with disabilities instead of labelling them as ‘unhealthy’.

She said to say that babies with Down syndrome are only born to women of an older age range is ignorant, adding that awareness of persons with special needs and a sensitive approach is needed amongst the community in the sultanate.

“We need to empower and show compassion (to people with special needs), not bring them down. It is against human ethics to label any individual,” she said.

The Brunei Times